If you count cell phones and other Wi-Fi–capable devices, K–12 may be close to achieving a one-to-one student-to-computer ratio – the Holy Grail of educational technology. We’ve gotten there, in large part, through no concerted effort of our own. While district IT directors like myself were paying attention to the desktop and workstation vendors at trade shows and ensuring our students were connected in controlled, filtered, exclusive environments, our students and their families were paying attention to television advertising and buying devices that kept them connected beyond our walls in uncontrolled, unfiltered and inclusive arenas.
That disconnect between our school environments and the real world can’t be good for students. During his frequent industry keynote addresses, Will Richardson, author of the influential educational technology blog Weblogg-ed, likes to hold up his cell phone and tell his audience that students have access to “the sum total of human knowledge in a device the size of a deck of cards.” That means everything, both good and bad.
Most schools prohibit the use of personal electronics on campus. But this ban rarely applies to faculty and administrators. Students see the hypocrisy of these policies, of course, and bring their gadgets anyway, betting that teachers are too preoccupied to catch them while they text under their desks – the 21st century equivalent of note passing.
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